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While editing a manuscript, I came across this sentence:

"On a personal note what could possibly be sweeter than disposing of the one man who’d ever bested him
in a physical confrontation; especially since it was witnessed by some of his closest acquaintances, who,
until that moment, believed, as he did, in his invincibility."

While it is clear what the writer means, aren't there just a tad too many sub-clauses?

~aj
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yes
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I remember my teacher, Miss Thistlethwaite, she of the old school of English, who said of subordinate clauses they should be so assembled as to flow in understanding as a river, such as the mightily Frazer in British Columbia, forming a coherency easily understood by the reader, no matter how well versed he or she was in reading comprehension (it is to the writer to dictate ease of word assemblage so a reader can easily ascertain meaning was her dictum) and not go as one would see a sack of cats being dragged to a river all awry seeming to go in several directions bound only by the sentence itself being a sentence; to Miss Thistlethwaite a sentence can have as many subordinate clauses as necessary as long as – as explained prior – they hold a consistency in passage throughout the sentence not leaving the reader, whoever he or she may be, unable to gather the meaning of each separate subordinate clause as to its context within the sentence and not, as she once said to me when taking her class at the high school in which she taught, verbal diarrhea as is wont by so many writers intent in putting all they wish to say in one sentence thereby necessitating subordinate clauses spread hither and yon.

MichaelR
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While it is clear what the writer means, aren't there just a tad too many sub-clauses?


Before looking at the other responses, I'll say--and risk repeating others--that there are too many subclauses, as well as commas that are in totally the wrong place.


sheila
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"On a personal note what could possibly be sweeter than disposing of the one man who’d ever bested him in a physical confrontation; especially since it was witnessed by some of his closest acquaintances, who, until that moment, believed, as he did, in his invincibility."

Gosh, some, people, just, like, commas, I, guess.

--SirTas
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I recommended dropping the whole sentence and expressing the character's thoughts in a different way.

~aj
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I understood the first sentence of the original poster easily, as I felt that the commas were placed correctly.

However, though I grinned at Miss Thistlewaite's "advice" to Michael Read and others, I feel she neglected to mention to her devoted students that "prior" is usually an adjective, or part of an adverbial clause...

But then I'm picky.

Big Momma
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I understood the first sentence of the original poster easily, as I felt that the commas were placed correctly.

However, though I grinned at Miss Thistlewaite's "advice" to Michael Read and others, I feel she neglected to mention to her devoted students that "prior" is usually an adjective, or part of an adverbial clause...

But then I'm picky.

Big Momma


The blame is mine. It has been more than 55 years since I was in Miss. Thistlethwaite’s class and my memory is not as it was although it has been only recent the memory aids she supplied (bruised knuckles) have healed.

I can’t say I was a devoted student but more a constant one and that was because Miss Thistlethwaite conducted detention (I attended many) and her method of holding this ‘class’ was to have each student write an essay. I believe this is the central reason later in life, as an editor, I felt free as a bird once the magazines were at the printers. Or, as I sometimes felt, the 18 years I spent in editing was punishment.

MichaelR
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WERE the 18 years a punishment, or are you thinking of (understood) the whole period of 18 years WAS a punishment?

It is stuff like this I used to explain daily to my students for a small hourly wage!

Big Momma
Very picky in Latin French or English but messy in everything else in life.
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WERE the 18 years a punishment, or are you thinking of (understood) the whole period of 18 years WAS a punishment?

It is stuff like this I used to explain daily to my students for a small hourly wage!

Big Momma

Very picky in Latin French or English but messy in everything else in life.


On reflection, it were a punishment; in participation, it was.

In newsrooms writing for tomorrow’s fish wrap (an oldie but still a goodie) it never rose to the heights I had expected since bylines never met bills. In editing trade magazines (also not glamorous since much time was spent on building sites) I occupied a cubicle and the only excitement ever was setting my wastepaper basket on fire, pushing it into the hallway, and doing a dance around it. Script writing was slightly better but matched Ben Hecht’s “I'm a Hollywood writer, so I put on my sports jacket and take off my brain.”

I started my advertising/public relations agency with the sincere intent to write exciting prose driving consumers to open their wallets and found myself writing on kitty litter, the cleanliness of gas station washrooms, and petitions for the next beg-a-thon. I sold the company later to fools who thought they could write better prose. They didn’t. No one could since I was most lyrical ever about washrooms.

Now, I believe the only way to make money in writing is in terse ransom notes rather than at five cents a word paid in media.

MichaelR

By the way, shouldn’t there be a comma between ‘French’ and ‘Latin’?
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By the way, shouldn’t there be a comma between ‘French’ and ‘Latin’?


You want her to be more accommadating?


sheila
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By the way, shouldn’t there be a comma between ‘French’ and ‘Latin’?

You want her to be more accommadating?

Sheila


Well, Big Momma is renouned for being precise.

MichaelR
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"Big Momma is renouned for being precise."

Michael, do yourself a favor. Although I'm certain you meant "renowned", your creative spelling, whether the result of mischief or inattention, tends to diminish the authority with which you critique the writings of others.

~aj
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"Big Momma is renouned for being precise."

Michael, do yourself a favor. Although I'm certain you meant "renowned", your creative spelling, whether the result of mischief or inattention, tends to diminish the authority with which you critique the writings of others.

~aj


It’s all sheila’s fault. I talked about Big Momma’s comma placement and she said, “You want her to be more accommadating?” and since I didn’t want to be bested by someone who likes vile puns as much as I do, I had – repeat, had-- to say ‘renouned’ since it was a better choice than ‘What you said reverberated with me’.

However, aj, you do make a good point and I thank you for the preposition.

MichaelR
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It’s all sheila’s fault. I talked about Big Momma’s comma placement and she said, “You want her to be more accommadating?” and since I didn’t want to be bested by someone who likes vile puns as much as I do, I had – repeat, had-- to say ‘renouned’ since it was a better choice than ‘What you said reverberated with me’.

Dear Fellow Vile Pun Lover,

I must admit that one went right over my head. (Shame on me!) Good thing you were taken to task, so now I know, and I can appreciate it appropriately!

Good work.


sheila
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I didn’t want to be bested by someone who likes vile puns as much as I do, I had – repeat, had-- to say ‘renouned’

I obliviously misconscrewed your response.

~aj
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Oh......woe.... I missed all those lovely scrumpdeliyicious puns by not seeing the board till this afternoon!

I'd like to apologise to Michael. Yes indeed there is a comma missing. My plea is that I am a lousy (albeit enthusiastic) typist, so I make a lot of spelling and punctuation errors.

I am renouned for them,and not accommadating of anyone else's errors. Moreover, my verbiage will never be as witty as the punsters on this board.

Parenthetically embarrassed...
Big Momma
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Parenthetically embarrassed...
Big Momma



Oh heavens -- no need! Look at the valuable (ahem!) string of priceless puns you enabled.

So let's change that to.....

parenthetically embraced, and thus ((Big Momma))


sheila
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I'd like to apologize to Michael…

Big Momma


For what? Being a source for banter between friends? Apology not needed nor asked for. In fact I should thank you for the opportunity to score off sheila’s commatory.

I did it again, didn’t I?

MichaelR
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